Category Archive

2022 November

Break the Cycle: Managing OCD

Have you ever seen someone perform a specific, repetitive motion and then laugh it off by saying “I’m so OCD”? While repetitive motions are often a symptom of OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD isn’t anything to laugh about.

It is estimated to be present in 2-3% of the population and is characterized by cycles of obsessions, anxiety, compulsions, and relief. Below are common examples of intrusive, obsessive thoughts and compulsions:

  • Fears about germs, disease, or hygiene
  • Having unwanted, disturbing thoughts
  • Fears about harming yourself or others
  • Repeated cleaning rituals (e.g., washing hands repeatedly, disinfecting doorknobs)
  • Repeating words or phrases mentally
  • Ordering or arranging things

Performing these actions can sometimes bring brief relief from the anxiety that the obsessions and compulsions create, but it often doesn’t last. People who have OCD often struggle to know whether the compulsive activities they undertake are reasonable or not.

There are multiple ways to treat OCD, but the most common, effective treatment is a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help give people with OCD better coping skills to manage their obsessions and compulsions, and by extension to relieve their anxiety. Exposure and response prevention is a specific kind of CBT that works by exposing someone with OCD to things that make them anxious a little bit at a time to help them learn to respond in healthier ways. Antidepressants are often the first line of medication used for OCD. This isn’t because OCD corresponds with depression, but because it has been demonstrated that these medications work well for OCD too.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you and are causing significant distress and/or disruption to your daily life, talk to your primary care physician. They can help you take next steps toward testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

International OCD Foundation | How is OCD Treated? (
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Medication & Treatment Options (

Early Intervention: Learning Disabilities

Children are full of wonder and potential, wired to learn rapidly in their early years. Sometimes, however, kids have trouble learning and need a little extra help to get on track.

There are many factors that may cause learning disabilities, such as genetics, family history, physical or psychological trauma, or environmental factors. Learning disabilities can apply to any number of skills learned in childhood, but the following are three of the most common.

Dysgraphia is a disability in which kids have trouble writing letters or numbers clearly and legibly. This can impact a child’s ability to learn to read, write, or do math.

Dyslexia is a similar condition in which children struggle to recognize words or spell correctly, which can impact a child’s reading ability.

Dyscalculia affects a child’s ability to understand and recognize numbers and mathematical concepts. This makes learning advanced math later in school very difficult for children.

If your child is struggling with reading, writing, or math, it is important to address this sooner than later. These learning disabilities may impact their ability to learn more advanced concepts later on, and lead to higher rates of anxiety and depression. You can raise your concerns with your child’s doctor, who will likely first test to make sure your child does not have vision or hearing problems.

If it is determined your child has a learning disability, there are multiple ways to get help. Tutors and specialists can help your child learn techniques to work with their learning disability. If your child is school-aged, talk to their teachers about getting an IEP, or Individualized Educational Program, which will help set learning goals and strategies for your child. Occupational therapy may also be useful in helping your child learn to work with their learning disability.

Learning disorders: Know the signs, how to help – Mayo Clinic
Types of Learning Disabilities – Learning Disabilities Association of America (

The Buzz on CBD

Over the last few years, you may have noticed a rash of stores opening that sell CBD products, touting their health benefits. CBD is an ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). However, unlike THC, which is the substance in marijuana that can get you “high,” CBD is not psychoactive or intoxicating. It is also legal to varying extents in all fifty states. While some may claim an outlandish number of benefits that can be derived from CBD, some positive effects have scientific studies backing them.

CBD is said to help with anxiety, and one small study indicates that a certain measured dose of CBD oil can do just that. More studies and human trials are underway to confirm this effect.

Directly related, some small studies have indicated that CBD may help ease the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder when coupled with therapy.

Other small studies show that topical application of CBD may help reduce physical pain, particularly for people suffering chronic, non-cancer pain.

The best-studied and scientifically established use of CBD is to treat certain kinds of epileptic seizures. Based on several large studies that demonstrated CBD’s effectiveness, the FDA approved the first medication to include cannabinoids in 2018.

While there appear to be many possible benefits to taking CBD, there is a risk of side effects, which can include nausea, liver injury, fatigue, and irritability. CBD can also interact with other medications, so if you take CBD regularly or are thinking about starting, talk to your doctor first to make sure it is a safe and healthy choice for you.

Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don’t – Harvard Health
CBD Oil: 9 Science-Backed Benefits – Forbes Health
CBD: Health Benefits, Risks, Dosage, and More (

Tobacco Surcharges Burn

2022 November, Benefit Spotlight September 26, 2022

It’s that time of year for benefits enrollment, and many people have gotten materials outlining the next year’s benefits. Some of you may notice a line item in your medical benefits page that reads “Tobacco Surcharge.”

By the terms of the Affordable Care Act, group health plans and self-insured employers can upcharge tobacco users up to 50% for their health insurance premiums. (Tobacco use in this case includes smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco.) Why do some plans include this surcharge? It hasn’t been a mystery for decades that tobacco use is bad for the human body. It is responsible for nearly half a million deaths in the US each year and is the leading preventable cause of disease and death.

Not only is tobacco use harmful and potentially fatal, it is expensive. The CDC estimates that smoking-related illness costs more than $300 billion dollars annually in the U.S., including both medical care and for lost productivity. Group health plans and employers include this surcharge both to help cover tobacco-related medical expenses and to encourage people to quit using tobacco products.

However, if an employer plan implements a tobacco surcharge, it must also provide a tobacco cessation program. If you are a tobacco user and want to quit and to avoid the surcharge, you can sign up for a tobacco cessation program, or, in some cases, submit confirmation of being under a physician’s care for tobacco or nicotine use to HR. To find out exactly what you need to do to avoid the surcharge, talk to your Human Resources Department.

What is a Tobacco Surcharge and How Does My Company Offer One? (
What You Need to Know About Smoking and Health Insurance | HealthMarkets
Economic Trends in Tobacco | Smoking & Tobacco Use | CDC